August 10, 2014


How did tsheg ring, which separates syllables in dBu-med script, evolve? According to dGe-chos (A, p. 206), tsheg (in dBu-can) once looked like colon-like visarga signs, and tsheg ring was formed through the joining of the two dots in the colon-like visarga signs.


  1. I guess you know there was a long discussion about this awhile back at one of Sam's blogs:
    although I don't recall they ever mentioned Gendun Choephel's idea.
    Do you think the double-dot tsheg was the original, prior to the single dot?

  2. Dear D, yes I think I remember, but at any rate, thanks for the reminder. I took a brief look at it again. Useful observations are made, but no allusion to dGe-chos’s explanation has been made, nor any attempt to bring in the issue of the imitation/adoption of the visarga sign. D.

  3. Oh, I forgot. If dGe-chos is correct, one would think that the double-dot tsheg should be earlier than the single dot. But ….

  4. But D, you know that it's true and I don't need to tell you that in Sanskrit the visarga is so totally *not* a punctuation mark. I suppose it might look like it *could* be one, if only to an analphabetic eye. But it hardly ever occurs at the end of a clause, and very often between a noun and its adjective (i.e., in a place where there would seem to be no good reason to have any kind of punctuation mark).

    I wonder how you see things evolving historically. I mean, Thon-mi the Good Tibetan absolutely needed a syllable separating mark. Otherwise the system of pre & post-script letters would just fall apart — or the mandala-like pattern of having a syllable-anchor surrounded by other letters in every direction of space except up and down... my wouldn't that be a fantastic syllabic writing system: ཕྱོགས་བཅུར་ཁྱབ་ཡིག! ala Abulafia. In Sanskritic understanding, every syllable ends in a vowel or visarga, right? Unless a consonant comes at the very end of a word... Enough of that. Gotta go pack. See you. -D

  5. Dear D, I see your point. Of course, before I say that the onus probandi lies squarely on those who have made the claim (e.g. dGe-chos, and so on), I have to be sure that that is what they really propose. But still, (a) I do not think that a punctuation/segmentation sign must have been necessary modeled after another punctuation/segmentation sign. (b) Graphically at least, if I wrote Kaḥ-thog, for instance, the visarga-sign seems to function like a punctuation/segmentation sign. At any rate, there seems to room for more study and discussions. Warmly, D.